I’m from Texas

2 07 2013

Texas. Ah, Texas. Most people know the basics: big, hot, republican. Big hair, thick drawls, and finger-licking bar-be-que. That pretty much sums up the Lone Star State.

The only reason I would drive 1,850 miles across half the United States to the hot, flat, tree-less, mountain-less, plains of north Texas is one reason: family. I don’t see them often, as you can imagine, so I drove down for a nice, long two-week visit.

Two weeks is a long time. I was not sure how this was going to go, as I haven’t spent that long in a Texas summer in many, many moons. And as the first few days proved, I had, well, forgot how to be Texan.

For instance, one cannot dive in and eat three ribs, a pile of potato salad and a whole piece of corn, washed down by half a gallon of sweet tea, when one’s digestive system is not used to such abuse. Hence the late night of indigestion, upset stomach, and hyperactivity (from the overly sweet tea).

And one simply cannot run outside in shorts and a tank top to roll around in the grass with the dog without drenching one’s entire body in the most potent form of bug repellent known to man. Otherwise, said person is tormented with the itchiness that comes from a zillion chigger bites, most in inappropriate places.

I tried to behave. I drank weak Folgers coffee in the mornings, since my dad was thoughtful enough to make extra for me. I wore shorts, despite my displeasure at my bare legs, and flip-flops almost every day: the unofficial uniform of Texans. Yet I still felt like an impostor, a fake, someone just pretending to belong.

So I turned all my attention to The Reason, the one thing that had me there in the first place: family. No one else mattered, just them.

Texas is my family.

I played with my parent’s foster baby, who will hopefully be my baby sister soon.  I worked my regular work schedule while I was there, so I had a new assistant in Baby H. She sorted the drawer of pens for hours on end, helped me unpack my toiletries, repacked my toiletries, and took phone calls. (Her clients all sang the ABCs when they called. Very odd.)

baby unpacking suitcase

You really need to unpack, stay awhile! Here, I’ll help.

My big Broski lives in north Texas now, too, and would come over in the evenings after work. We started teaching Baby H wonderful new tricks, like grunting like a gorilla and sticking her tongue out as far as she could with her mouth wide open. Useful life skills she’ll need for the future.

baby and dog

Baby H sharing her vast knowledge of gorilla noises with Simba, her new favorite.

This trip was planned around a special date: Broski turned THIRTY!!! The family piled into the Tahoe and headed to Oklahoma City, hitting up Bass Pro Shop first since it was pouring rain. Baby H and I spent a lot of time talking to the fish in the huge wall of tanks and to the various stuffed mounts adorning the walls and shelves. Then off to see the living animals! The zoo was quiet due to the weather, but what a blast! One of Baby H’s only words at the moment is “puppy”, so everything we saw was called this. “Look! An elephant!” “Ooo, puppy!”  But Broski reminded her of her skills with gorilla noises when we reached the monkey house. The people near us were all vastly amused.

baby's first trip to the zoo

“Puppy!” “No, Baby H, giraffe! Gir-aaaa-fffffff!”

My Daddy managed to come home a little early a couple days and we hung out, chatting, making fun of Broski, playing with Baby H. This day-to-day living is what warmed my little heart the most: just sitting around being a family. Not worried about what we needed to race off to do because I’m only there for a few days, but just sitting around enjoying each other. Daddy makes fun of me for my lost tolerance of heat, claiming that if I didn’t live in the frozen tundra of Canada I wouldn’t be melting. We even stayed up one night until some ungodly hour (probably close to 11:00 PM!) just talking. He told me details of our family and our land, stories about his grandpa, and worries about his job. It was delightful.

And I spent so much time with my Momma.  She was the most excited for my visit, I think.  We chatted, we played with the baby, we discussed family issues, we sorted through stuff she wanted me to take home, we planned meals, we went shopping. We ate all of our meals together and took turns with Baby H. She tried her hardest to let me work during business hours, but I didn’t mind when she popped her head in. The whole two weeks, just about, were spent with my momma. She’s the most wonderful woman in the world and I loved every minute we got together. We didn’t have to do anything special, we just got to hang out. Glorious!

Thankfully, I was even lucky enough to have several visits with both my grandma and my paw-paw. It was wonderful to just sit and visit without any rush. My Grandma gave me a beautiful family quilt from around 1910, and Paw Paw told me wild stories of his youthful days swimming the Niagra River. We also had a reunion, of sorts, to celebrate Paw-Paw’s 94th birthday! Cousins I haven’t seen in ages stopped by and we caught up while eating delicious cake. I couldn’t miss a chance to hit the casino with Paw-Paw, and with his advice I won $28 on a penny machine! I’d say he should be my lucky charm!

Kiowa Casino, OK, family trip

I’m RICH! My gorgeous mother is just helping me hold this massive wad of cash…

I managed to see aunts and uncles and cousins and my godmother and second cousins and babies of cousins – it was amazing. I know I keep saying that, but it was. Living far away from family definitely has its downsides. I just gave as many hugs as I could, relishing the gift of these wonderful folks.

Texas is also still home to many of my best friends. Most of them in fact. I made a way-too-quick trip to Dallas for a mini reunion. Two gals live there and a third drove all the way from New Braunfels for the occasion. I couldn’t stop smiling the entire time. We basked by the pool, Simba made two new friends, and I about passed out with the sheer joy of getting to see these fantastic women. I just felt bad I wasn’t able to give more ladies enough notice to allow them to join the festivities!

best friends reunion, Dallas TX

These are the three best friends that anybody could have, yes the three best friends that anyone could have….

By a stroke of luck, I even got to spend an evening with a childhood friend whom I’ve known since 2nd grade. Her kids are half grown, we could barely talk fast enough to fill in the years between our last visit and this one, and her kids begged for more stories of mountains and forests and a place called “Washington” so foreign to them.

So the point to all this rambling: hold your dear ones near. Don’t take your family for granted. Call your momma, hug your daddy, visit your grandparents. These people are important, no matter how crazy, how weird, how off-beat – these people are important. Tell them you love them. They need to hear it.

Like this guy – I adore my Broski. And who knew we would both grow up to have such shiny teeth?!

brother and sister smiling, Wichita Falls TX

Sibling love, on a hot Texas afternoon. CHEESE CAKES!!

Broski also gave me a tour of the family ranch. He’s been working on restoring it to hopefully be workable again, maybe one day run cattle on it again or something. The land has been in our family over 100 years, and I got quite the history lesson on it, for FREE. Best of all, Simba decided he could totally be a ranch dog.

dogs on the ranch with oil lease, Texas

Simba and his cousin Junior, the ranch dogs. Simba: “Mom! This is SO FUN!”

By the end of the two weeks, I came to a wonderful and reassuring conclusion. Yes, I had to go to Starbucks a few times. Yes, I spent as much time in front of the A/C vent as possible. Yes, I got pulled over for going 2 mph over the speed limit and had my car (with Washington plates) searched for drugs. (Profiling, anyone?) But regardless, this place is my homeland, my heritage, my past. I grew up here until I was 13, came right back after high school, and I will always have family here.

So the next time someone asks where I’m from, I can bypass the hesitation and the doubt and proudly proclaim…






One response

3 07 2013
Shirley Ewer

I loved it. You are a natural born writer. Why aren’t you writing a book.

Give it to me straight -

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